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Marco Polo: find your iPhone by shouting at it

If you're like me, you spend a fair amount of time looking for your iPhone. Did it fall between the couch cushions, or is it still in a pants pocket?

Marco Polo (US$0.99) can solve that problem and find your iPhone in a jiffy. When you run the app it stays in the background listening for the phrase "Marco". When it hears that word, it responds "Polo". It's simple, and pretty effective.

I tried Marco Polo around the house, first putting the phone on a dresser. That was an easy one -- I said "Marco" and the phone replied. I also put the iPhone under a couple of blankets, and that worked too. Then I put my iPhone in a drawer in the kitchen, and while the sound was muffled, I could hear it respond. Obviously, if I got too far away -- like two rooms away -- it wouldn't trigger. But I would be quite happy to shout out a couple of different "Marco's" to find my lost phone.

There are some customization settings. You can type in another word besides "Marco" to use to trigger the response, but the phone will always say "Polo". The response voices can be customized too, which is a nice touch.

The app doesn't require an Internet connection to work. There is an option to use the loudest volume your device is capable of when responding, even if your iPhone volume is set to its lowest setting. Marco Polo is tuned to North American English for now, but other dialects may be coming.

The app is a nice alternative to Find My iPhone, because GPS just doesn't work that well (or at all) within a house. On the other hand, if you have no idea where your phone is outside the home, Marco Polo won't be helpful.

Marco Polo runs on any iOS device, and by customizing the trigger phrase you can distinguish between, for example, an iPad and an iPhone. Some notifications may be silenced while Marco Polo is running; that's just the way Apple engineered iOS. Phone calls, calendar alerts and clock alarms will always get through.

I don't have the tools for precise measurement, but I didn't see any significant drain on my battery while the app was running. My only suggestion for the developers is that once the phone says "Polo", it might be nice if it emitted a repeating tone to make it easier to pinpoint without having to go through the house yelling "Marco" over and over.

Marco Polo is a creative application that works well. It requires iOS 7 or later and it is optimized for the iPhone 5.

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